Fatal attraction: The death of a solitary-sociable bottlenose dolphin due to anthropogenic trauma in the Netherlands

IJsseldijk, L. L. et al. (2020) Fatal attraction: The death of a solitary-sociable bottlenose dolphin due to anthropogenic trauma in the Netherlands. Lutra, 63(1-2), pp. 17-32.

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Publisher's URL: https://www.zoogdiervereniging.nl/publicaties/2020/fatal-attraction-death-solitary-sociable-bottlenose-dolphin-due-anthropogenic


The death and behaviour prior to death of a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) known by the name of “Zafar” created significant national and international public interest. The animal was first observed in the Netherlands on the 2nd of May 2020, closely following a boat from Brittany, France, all the way into the port of Amsterdam after passing the locks at IJmuiden. After a day of residency in the industrial port of Amsterdam, the animal was successfully lured back into the North Sea. The dolphin was observed lastly on the 5th of May following a fishing vessel heading north in coastal waters near Callantsoog. Seven days later, a dead bottlenose dolphin stranded at Wijk aan Zee and through photo-identification, the animal was identified to be Zafar. A post-mortem investigation was carried out with the aim of determining the animal’s most likely cause of death, its health status, and an attempt was made to unravel the animals approximate whereabouts prior to death through stomach content analysis. The post-mortem investigation revealed that this subadult, 14 year old male had a moderate to good body condition, no sign of significant disease, and had been feeding shortly prior to death. Injuries on the animal fit with an anthropogenic source causing mortality, and the nature and severity of the lesions were most consistent with vessel collision. Based on the sightings and stranding location and the stomach content, the animal probably died within the Dutch coastal waters of Noord-Holland. This animal was first sighted in 2017 as a solitary-sociable dolphin. Such individuals have particular home-ranges, typically interact with people and little with conspecifics. It has been reported that solitary-sociable dolphins have a higher chance of suffering from human interference, and the case of Zafar clearly demonstrates this risk.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:ten Doeschate, Mariel
Authors: IJsseldijk, L. L., van Schalkwijk, L., van den Berg, A., ten Doeschate, M. T.I., Everaarts, E., Keijl, G. O., Kuijpers, N., Bravo Rebolledo, E. L., Veraa, S., Kik, M. J.L., and Leopold, M. F.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Lutra

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